Chitra Divakaruni’s New Novel: Before We Meet The Goddess


Writer Amitav Ghosh describes Before We Visit the Goddess as, ”Tender, bittersweet, beautifully wrought tales about love and longing, exile and loneliness.”

By Pramod Kulkarni

Houston: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, the Houston-based prolific novelist, has published a new novel, Before We Visit the Goddess, that is being published simultaneously in USA, UK and India during April 2016. According to Chitra, the book has been written in an unusual form known as a novel-in-stories.

In her latest novel, Chitra explores the relationships between mothers and daughters, and the different kinds of love that bind us across generations.

Before We Visit the Goddess captures the complexity of these multi-generational and transcontinental bonds, sweeping across the twentieth century from the countryside of Bengal, India, to the streets of Houston, Texas—an extraordinary journey told through a sparkling symphony of male and female voices.

Before We Visit the Goddess describes three generations of mothers and daughters, who must discover their greatest source of strength in one another—a masterful tale of a family both united and torn apart by ambition and love.

The story begins with the daughter of a poor baker in rural Bengal, Sabitri yearns to get an education, but her family’s situation means college is an impossible dream. Then an influential woman from Kolkata takes Sabitri under her wing, but her generosity soon proves dangerous after the girl makes a single, unforgiveable misstep.

Years later, Sabitri’s own daughter, Bela, haunted by her mother’s choices, flees abroad with her political refugee lover—but the America she finds is vastly different from the country she’d imagined. As the marriage crumbles and Bela is forced to forge her own path, she unwittingly imprints her own child, Tara, with indelible lessons about freedom, heartbreak, and loyalty that will take a lifetime to unravel.

Chitra 1

Chitra Divakaruni

Writer Amitav Ghosh (The Ibis Trilogy) describes this novel as, “”Tender, bittersweet, beautifully wrought tales about love and longing, exile and loneliness.”

Here is an advance review from Booklist: “The always enchanting and enlightening Divakaruni spins another silken yet tensile saga about the lives of women in India and as immigrants in America.  Chitra’s gracefully insightful, dazzlingly descriptive, and covertly stinging tale illuminates the opposition women must confront, generation by generation, as they seek both independence and connection.”

Chitra is an award-winning author, poet, activist and teacher. Her 17 books have been translated into 29 languages, and her work has appeared in over a hundred magazines and anthologies. Several of her novels and stories, such as Mistress of Spices, Arranged Marriage, Sister of My Heart, Oleander Girl, and Palace of Illusions have been made into films and plays. She has won an American Book Award, a Premio Scanno award, also known as the Italian Nobel, and a Light of India award.

Chitra teaches Creative Writing at the University of Houston and writes for both adults and children. In 2015, she was chosen by the Economic Times for their list of Twenty Most Influential Global Indian Women.

Chitra will be doing two readings in Houston, on April 19, 7 pm, at Blue Willow Books, 14532 Memorial Dr, Houston, TX 77079. And at Brazos bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet, on Wednesday, May 4 at 7 PM. The readings are free and open to the public.